Robber is fatally shot by owner of a restaurant Man tried to use pellet pistol in holdup


The owner of an East Baltimore restaurant shot and killed an unidentified gunman last night during a robbery outside the businessman's warehouse in the 100 block of S. Warwick Ave.

The gun used by the robber turned out to be a pellet pistol look-alike of a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

Homicide detective Scott Keller said William Coffey, the 67-year-old owner of Bittman's restaurant in the 1900 block of Belair Road, was walking toward the front door of his warehouse at 8:45 p.m. when he was stopped by a man who demanded his money.

After reaching into one pocket and giving the man his wallet and a small sum of cash, Mr. Coffey told the man that he had more money in another pocket.

It was then, said Detective Keller, that the man pulled out what appeared to Mr. Coffey to be a real handgun.

Detective Keller said Mr. Coffey then pulled out a .38 caliber revolver and fired two shots, hitting the robber in the upper torso both times.

The robber staggered backward and fell to the pavement.

Mr. Coffey ran into his warehouse and called the police.

A few minutes later, the gunman was pronounced dead at the scene. Near the body was the pellet pistol and Mr. Coffey's money and wallet.

Detective Keller said the dead man had no identification on him and that his fingerprints were to be taken at the medical examiner's office today.

Following an investigation of the incident and an interview at police headquarters, no charges were placed against the restaurant owner and he was released.

Detective Keller said the case has been ruled an armed robbery and a justifiable homicide, pending a review of the incident by the state's attorneys office.

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